In the 1920ís, the Polish Army acquired some 135 Kergesse halftracks from France and converted 90 of these to armored halftracks by adding an armored superstructure. These vehicles were subsequently called the Model 1928 armored cars (wz. 28). Low speed and durability of the tracks led to rebuilding of one vehicle by exchanging the tracks for wheels. This first prototype vehicle was tested and subsequently standardized in 1934 as the Model 34 Armored car (SamochÚd Pancerny wz. 34).
Total production amounted to 87 vehicles from different factories with three major sub-variants (differing in the way the superstructure was built, engine and some other details). The major variant with 60 vehicles produced was the wz. 34-II, which had a stronger engine and sloped back armor. There were two different armament variants, with the first one fielding a 7,92-mm-Hotchkiss wz. 25 (Model 1925) machine gun and the second one a French 37mm SA-18-Puteaux-L/21 gun. Armor was 6-8mm and the vehicle had a crew of 2. There was no belly armor, but instead wooden boards were used as the fighting compartment floor.
By the time of the outbreak of WWII, the vehicles were hopelessly obsolete, but were nevertheless used with some success against German armor. All vehicles were either destroyed or fell into German hands. The Germans used some of the vehicles in the occupation of Poland and sold 18 vehicles to Croatia in 1941 for anti-partisan duties. No wz. 34 survived the war, but several replicas were built on the basis of other vehicles. This, of course, means that there is no original vehicle to take measurements from for an accurate model or to judge the accuracy of this model.
provides us with a kit of this little armored car of the early days of WWII. As mentioned in Armoramaís thread on the news article of this kit, the molds for this kit have been around for some time, so this is not in any way a new release (See this thread
for more info). So letís open the box, shall we?
When I received the kit, judging from the box size, I at first thought this was 1/72 scale. This should tell you something about the size of the vehicle. On opening the box you will find 4 sprues in grey plastic, a small bag with 7 vinyl tires, the decal sheet and the instructions.
The instructions are clear to follow line drawings with some good, although very small, reference photos along with a good color painting guide. There is also a small piece of paper with Polish army signal flags to cut out and mount on the vehicle. Instructions are in Polish and English.
The three main sprues have the parts numbered, although no letter to identify the sprue to facilitate finding the parts (which isnít that much of problem considering the parts are fairly limited in number). Quality of molding is very basic by todayís standards with lots of flash, some pin marks and thick sprue attachment points. Parts are very thick and some could benefit from major thinning. Also some parts on my example (such as the tools) were bent due to the packaging of all the sprues packed in one small plastic bag.
The first sprue contains the two halves of the armored body and the turret. Due to the molding process, the rivets on the turret have turned out quite crooked and are best replaced. Other items on this sprue are the armament for the polish versions (37mm gun and Hotchkiss MG barrels). The MG has to be cut out from a lot of flash and both, in particular the 37mm gun, will need the barrels drilled out for more realism. The leaf springs have no detail at all on the sides and are best replaced or scratch built. There is no detail whatsoever for the interior.
The second sprue includes most of the smaller parts, the floor of the vehicle and the fenders. Again, the parts are molded very thick and some of them, such as doors and hatches, will have to be thinned or replaced to get an accurate thickness. This is especially true for the fenders, which according to pictures were made from thin sheet metal. The thickness is roughly 1mm on the model which would make them 35mm armor plate in real life.
The third sprue contains the parts needed for the wheels, and again has excess amounts of flash to remove. The vinyl tires will be trapped between two plastic parts but only after removing the four attachment points of the inner sprue.
The fourth sprue is sprue E and has three parts on it, of which only half of one are used. This is the barrel of a very basic German MG34, and though Iím not an expert on the subject I must say I would not have recognized it as an MG34.
The decal sheet is probably the best part of the kit with commendably thin decals for 3 marking version. The first one is of a Polish vehicle in the first half of the 1930ís with an interesting three-tone camouflage scheme with the color patches divided by black lines. The second one is also Polish with the three-tone soft edge camouflage scheme introduced in 1936. The last marking option is of a captured German vehicle with large white crosses painted on the sides, front and back.
Although marketed as new, this kit is definitely not new judging from the standard of molding which is typical for eastern European moldings of the early 1990ís. To a certain extent the kit felt more like providing the basic form and wheels with the invitation to scratch build the rest. I recommend this kit only because of the subject matter, and a lot of skill will be needed to make it a presentable model by todayís standards.